Sinem Günel, 23 years old, based in Vienna, Austria, is an entrepreneur, coach, and writer. She is the co-founder of Personal Growth Base, a website dedicated to personal development.
So, tell us a bit about your entrepreneur's journey
I started my entrepreneurial journey at the age of 19 by hosting personal development workshops for students. After my first projects, I knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur for the rest of my life and started several side businesses besides my studies and a full-time internship: I created online courses, hosted workshops and blogged on Medium.com.
My mission is to inspire and empower people across the globe to invest in themselves and unleash their full potential and I’m reaching my goal through several different products and services such as seminars, books, and online courses and blogging.
On Medium.com alone, more than 300,000 people are reading my stories about personal growth, self-fulfillment, and productivity each month.
What's special about Personal Growth Base?
Personalgrowthbase.com is a website dedicated to actionable, hands-on personal development advice. We want to help people grow into their very best versions and unleash their greatest version and we want them to a) enjoy the journey and b) be effective.
We deliver articles, online programs, journals, and a weekly newsletter to serve our audience with great content to create a life they truly love.
Why did you start Personal Growth Base?
I started my business about personal development in 2017 through workshops, seminars, online courses and my blog on Medium.com, so I’ve been into these topics for a few years.
However, at the beginning of 2020, my partner and I decided to combine all our programs and knowledge on one website and thus created Personal Growth Base.
How did you start it ? Did you have any previous experience as an entrepreneur?
As mentioned above, we already had experience in different fields. We’ve been doing a lot of what we do with Personal Growth Base in German for the past three years. Yet, transforming our whole business to English and combining everything on one single platform was still challenging.
How did you validate your idea?
Not really: We have some really strong traffic sources through which we generate lots of email subscribers every day. And we knew that there’s still need for personal growth advice, particularly for really good programs that dig deep and help people to transform their lives.
So we didn’t really take a risk before starting Personal Growth Base, we just had to make sure to acquire all the technical knowledge to be able to set everything up properly.
How did you finance your project ?
We didn’t need any external financing - we are running a fully digital business and have very little fixed costs.
How did you market and promote Personal Growth Base when you were launching? What was the most effective strategy?
I have a very strong readership on Medium.com, which is the world’s biggest publishing platform for writers. There, I linked back to Personal Growth Base and our free downloads and products.
By doing so, we grew our community quite quickly. Plus, we are using Pinterest as a traffic source, which was also set up quite quickly and helps us to get new visitors to our website.
How long did it take you to start getting the first results and see you could create a viable business?
We’re still in the process of growing our email list and waiting to reach a critical mass before we launch our first big personal growth programs which will guide the customer through a personal development journey for many months.
However, we had first results and knew that our plans will work quite quickly as we already had lots of knowledge on how our business works before we started Personal Growth Base.
You started Personal Growth Base as a side hustle. How did you organize to work on your side project while studying at the same time? How long did it take to go full time?
I guess the most critical point is that I simply worked a lot. I started my business together with my boyfriend, so I was lucky because I didn’t have to sacrifice my relationship, but instead we were having fun building our business.
However, we sacrificed many other things: I barely went out for the majority of the beginnings of our business, we worked on almost all weekends and also on almost all evenings.
During the last 6 months before I fully focused on my business I was finishing my studies, doing a full-time internship, blogging on Medium, and hosting workshops. Looking back, it’s crazy how I managed all of it but I remember how I was writing my blog posts at 6 AM before heading to work and after 10 PM once I was done with studying.
There’s a beautiful quote by Jim Rohn: "If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way, if you don’t, you’ll find an excuse." and I deeply believe in that. I had a strong desire to be my own boss and create a life I truly enjoy, so I was fine with working my ass off during the beginnings.
Was being young an obstacle or an advantage for you to start your business?
I get lots of comments by people telling me how they admire everything I already did and accomplished at such a young age and then, of course, there are people who are critical.
I guess the biggest challenge was in my own head. When we hosted our very first workshop, I was too shy to get on stage and do a presentation because I didn’t trust in myself.
Most of my workshop attendees are older than me and particularly at the beginning I thought this was a reason why they know more than me. But that’s absolutely wrong. I spent so much time and energy into diving deep into all these topics that I deserve appreciation for my work, regardless of my age.
However, my partner is a little older than me (he’s 29 years old now) and already had much more work experience when we started our business. That was particularly helpful for projects with B2B clients as I had zero experience on how to do business when we started.
What are the main ways in which you are able to monetize your business?
Through Personal Growth Base we are offering different products: E.g. Personal growth journals, online coaching programs, 1-on-1 mentoring, etc.
But we also do affiliate marketing and paid collaborations with brands that fit our values.
What are the most useful tools/software that you use for your business?
Our most important software is our email marketing tool called Convertkit.
Other than that we love using Teachable for our digital courses and programs and Canva for all our design-related work.
What do you like most about being an entrepreneur?
The freedom. We’re still a team of two (my boyfriend and I) and even though we’re currently planning to expand our team, we’ll give our best to keep the flexibility and freedom we have right now.
I can basically work whenever, wherever I want and even though I need to get annoying tasks done every week, most of my workdays are filled with to-do’s that I really enjoy.
What has been your biggest challenge/failure as an entrepreneur?
The biggest challenge is to stop comparing your day 1 with other people’s day 500. We always see the tip of the iceberg, the success of other people and blame ourselves for not being there yet.
The reality, however, is that sustainable success takes time and failures are not only normal but important for growth.
Accepting that there is no finish line and that I’ll never be done was another important lesson.
What are your business goals for this coming year?
For 2020, my biggest goals are further automating our business through smart funnels and building a team of at least 2 more people who support us with Personal Growth Base.
How can an aspiring entrepreneur start building a business now? What would be a good business type to start as a beginner?
There are so many digital business models that still work very well but I guess the most important question is, What would you enjoy? Do you want to write? Do you want to shoot videos? Do you want to create an online shop?
There are so many opportunities and most of them might work, but they’ll only work if you enjoy the process and give 100%.
There’s more free knowledge out there than ever before, so my biggest suggestion is finding a few sources and educating yourself on topics that spark your interest. If you invest enough time into learning, you’ll also come up with ways to build a business around your passion.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My morning routine is absolutely critical for a successful day. If I mess up my morning, I have a hard time creating great results throughout the day. If I, however, take enough time to start the day in a calm, relaxed way, not only my motivation but also my results are better.
What's your favourite quote?
"If you're alive you're capable of anything."
Any good book(s) to recommend to an aspiring entrepreneur?
The 4-hour workweek by Tim Ferriss
Dotcom Secrets by Russell Brunson
Keep going by Austin Kleon
And I have a few more recommendations in this post.
Learn more about Personal Growth Base at www.personalgrowthbase.com
Like our content? Comment, share, subscribe to our newsletter!
And go work on your ideas. Get things going!